Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Caruana and Araujo are 'in harmony'

(Photo: Gibraltar Chronicle)
GIBRALTAR / LA LÍNEA Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Mayor Gemma Araujo of La Línea,  who have been described as being 'in harmony' by the local press, met with the media after their own get-together -the first such, officially- to make several statements of a more or less practical nature. For his part, Caruana declared that Gibraltar and La Línea "share a common socio-economic future", while Araujo (PSOE) made a point of saying how much relations between the two had improved since her predecessor, Alejandro Sánchez (PP), had been ousted at the elections in May, emphasized that this meeting was “an important gesture of a mutual desire to improve cross-border relations both at an institutional level and to bring our communities closer together.” The Chief Minister added that he had always made an effort with all previous mayors and had only abandoned this commitment when it had “become impossible to maintain the relationship” with Sánchez.>>>
Regarding several practical proposals, Caruana rolled out one of his favourite phrases about the relationship of those on both sides of the frontier, albeit opening up its possibilities. “What is good for Gibraltar is good for La Linea and what is bad for La Linea is bad for Gibraltar. With a more open Europe, more regional dependence and a globalised world economy, those kind of localised comments are useless and inefficient,” said the Chief Minister.
Logistics centre for air terminal
Among other things, Peter Caruana proposed the creation in La Línea of a logistics centre aimed at exploiting services related to the new terminal at Gibraltar Airport, including cargo and transport. The proposal, the first of its kind for many years, serve to re-establish institutional relations between both parts.

Gibraltar, according to Caruana, lacks the land and the physical space, which La Línea does possess. "This would be an "interesting" investment that "could also generate employment that is much in demand locally." He stressed that he had wanted to present this proposal to the previous mayor, but it never happened because of his, Sánchez's, intention of creating a toll for entry to the Rock.

For her part, Araujo was receptive to the idea, stating that yesterday's meeting was "a good starting point from which to set to work on cooperation in tourism, education -via an immersion language programme-, business and the generation of employment. The possibility of Gibraltar businesses settling in La Línea and those from this side having business opportunities on the Rock means that jobs would be created."

Regarding the terminal, the Mayor and the Chief Minister said that they were disappointed that the new terminal -described as "splendid" by Caruana - is scheduled to open in October without there being even the beginning of work on the La Línea side.

Araujo said that her Council  has "a particular interest in ceding the necessary land to AENA," the Spanish airports authority. Unfortunately, she added, the matter was used as "a political tool by the previous PP government, and we're now picking up the results." She stated that she is expecting a response from AENA and wants to close a deal as soon as possible.

Spanish workers' benefits
Araujo also expresed her "concern" about other matters, including that of the precarious situation of Spanish workers on the Rock, in terms of their social security benefits, adding that she also mentioned the complaints from these workers about the increase in the price of a bus ticket from the border, which particularly affects the Spanish workers. "Peter Caruna has told me," said the mayor, "that a reduced tariff has been introduced, allowing for ten trips a week at €7,80."

Western beach pollution
Peter Caruana, for his part, said that, although he had tried to raise the matter with Araujo's predecessor, he had mentioned the situation of Western Beach and pollution there. The mayor had told him that her team saw the need to begin work on the project to bring an end to the problem, as "it is not right that the beach has to be closed because of rainwater disposal network problems.We are aware that this is not  a simple matter but we have the Council's commitment that work will done."

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